How to Protect Our Children from Lead Paint that’s Coating Over 80% of Newton Homes
In the 1800s - early 1900s, people didn’t think anything of coating siding, windows, doors, walls, ceilings, and trim with toxic lead-based paint.
Lead-based paint was a legal product in the United States and in high demand due to its durability and washability. It was repeatedly endorsed by the U.S., state, and local governments and specified for use on government buildings until the mid-1970s.
Typically, the older the home, the more coats of lead-containing paint were applied. Older paint products also had higher concentrations of lead.
If your home was built or renovated before 1978, it’s probably got at least one coat of lead-based paint.
Is Lead Paint Really Poisoning our Children?
In Newton, approximately 84% of all housing was constructed – and painted - before the lead-based paint ban.
• The most recent data in 2016 reveals that 19 screened children living in Newton between 9 to 47 months of age tested positive for elevated blood lead levels.
• Greater Boston is flagged as high-risk for childhood lead poisoning by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Screening and Prevalence Statistics
|# Children 9 - 47 months old||# Children with blood lead levels ≥ 5||# Children with blood lead levels ≥ 10|
Calendar Year 2016
Source: Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Childproof Your Home Improvements
It wasn’t until 2012 that the CDC was finally convinced that all blood lead levels (BLLs) are dangerous.
Indisputable data proves that even very low BLLs have irreversible and devastating health effects, especially in children.
No blood lead level is safe for human beings. However, children 5 and under are at the greatest risk for poisoning.
This is because younger children tend to put things in their mouths like paint chips (which taste sweet) from peeling and flaking windows, doors, trim, and walls.
Household dust can be contaminated with unseen paint particles that get on a child’s hands, their toys, bottles, cups, and other items which end up in their mouths.
Home repairs that create even a small amount of lead dust are enough to put your family at risk.
Exterior lead-based paint products often contained more lead than interior paints. Over time, paint chips, flakes, and dust mix into the soil surrounding the home. Lead is not biodegradable - it doesn’t vanish over time.
Consequently, children playing around the house, food growing in a nearby garden, the HVAC system, or dirt dragged inside from outdoors are all potential contaminates.
The highest risk is damage to brain development, but lead paint poisoning can affect almost every system and organ in the body.
Pregnant women can even pass it to unborn children.
Dangers of lead paint poisoning in children include:
• Behavior issues
• Learning problems/disabilities
• Diminished motor skills
• Brain damage
• Memory loss
• Lower IQ
• Reduced/slowed growth
• Hearing loss
• Seizures, coma, and death
Hundreds of young children are poisoned by lead paint in Massachusetts each year.
Get the Lead Paint Out!
Today, there are over one million kids who have been poisoned by lead from old paint.
Note that undisturbed paint that’s in good condition doesn’t pose much of a risk on its own, particularly if additional top coats of lead-free paint are holding it in place.
Massachusetts Law requires the removal or covering of lead paint hazards in homes built before 1978 where any children under six years old live.
Urgent Issues to Address:
• Loose, peeling or chipped paint
• Painted Window trims and sills
• Dust with high-lead content
• Structural defects that cause peeling and water damage
Protect You, Your Family, Guests, and Your Pets:
• Inspect and maintain painted surfaces regularly to prevent degradation.
• Clean friction areas, such as window sills, often to pick up dust and paint chips.
• Wash hands, toys, bottles, and pacifiers of children daily.
• Wipe or remove shoes when entering your home.
• Teach children to remove shoes and wash their hands when coming inside.
• Don’t let children chew or mouth painted surfaces.
Make sure you renovate the right way with a contractor that is Lead-Safe Certified in accordance with EPA guidelines for any painting, renovation, or repair project.
24/7 Poison Control Center
Call (800) 222-1222
Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Call (800) 532-9571